Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Seedy Crackers

Hi there!
I've been making these crackers for a good 4 months now and it seems like I ought to share them; particularly since I took them to every holiday gathering I attended. [Gluten- nut- egg-free things are always popular at parties.] People kept asking for the recipe and now, finally, I'm passing it along to the masses.*  Yes, I realize it's now past the holiday party season, but you can still make these, just for you.  They're an exceptionally flavorful snack all by themselves, but they're also great with cheeses or hummus, or tapenade.  The best thing about these pretty little crackers?  They're even easier to make than my go-to wheat crackers.

I first made them for a meat and cheese picnic because I wanted to have a second type of cracker to compliment with my usual crackers, and came across this recipe from a very nice GF website.  I wasn't actually planning to go sans gluten, but I liked the premise of the recipe.  Once I went gluten-free, though, I decided I may as well go nut-free, and once I started getting seedy, it just made sense to use flax seeds instead of eggs, which makes these babies quite vegan... but they don't taste vegan [if you know what I mean], so they're popular with just about everyone.

Gluten-free things need a little extra help holding things together, which is why the inspiration recipe used egg.  The flax seeds work as an egg substitute because they contain a good bit of mucilage, which is a clear gelling agent found in almost all plants that absorbs water and binds it into "mucilaginous gel."  [Cacti and other succulents have lots of mucilage.] Grinding the flax exposes the mucilage and mixing it with water lets it goop everything together. Fun, huh?

Recipe: Seedy Crackers

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blueberry Fool

[The hybrid --a double X-- arrived shortly after the okra post.  The past two months have been a bit of a blur.  Right now I'm typing with one hand while little CG sleeps in the crook of my other arm, so please pardon any typos... not that I didn't have typos when I had free use of all fingers, I just think there may a few extra this time.] 

My oven has also been on the fritz for the past two months [great timing] so there've been almost no crisps, cobblers, or pies around this summer; we've mostly been enjoying the bountiful fruits of the season in a little macerating juice or a dollop of cream.  The fancier version of this is the "Fool," a British dessert [those Brits and their crazy dessert names!] where the fresh or stewed fruit is folded into cream.  JG and I did it one better by pureeing the stewed fruit and whipping it into the cream which --particularly with blueberries -- makes for a more dramatic presentation.

This does require a little make-ahead time sine the puree has to cool before you whip it in, but I don't think it takes any longer than macerating... and blueberries don't really lend themselves to maceration anyway since their skins are strong enough to block the sugar leeching and halved blueberries are frankly unattractive.

Recipe: Blueberry Fool

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roasted Okra

I've been on an okra kick lately.  I'm not sure how it started.  Growing up I only ever had fried okra at school (yes, in the south, fried okra is a school lunch vegetable) and when I lived in Houston I got to know it as a component of gumbo and some Indian veggie dishes, but I wasn't really partial to it and I have no idea what possessed me to buy some at the grocery store the other day, except for the fact that I don't think I'd ever seen in my Cambridge grocery store.

Once I got it home I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I did what I do to all new vegetables [and most of my favorites]: I roasted it.

It was fantastic.  The okra flavor was rich and earthy, and the roasting made it not at all slimy. [Okra is boiled in gumbo and curries because the goo it releases acts as a thickener.]  I wanted more, but a week later the store seemed to have the same batch of okra sitting out and they were no longer green and firm but soft and spotty brown... I guess when you don't usually carry a product and your customers aren't too familiar with it, you can get away with letting it go bad in full display?

I was bummed until I discovered something wonderful.  I went to little Indian convenience store on the corner for a quick gallon of milk and down on the bottom shelf of their refrigerated section was a giant box of fresh okra for half the price per pound I'd paid at the big grocery store.  Of course!  I think of it as "Southern", but it's native to Africa and grown throughout India... and Indian food is much cheaper than Southern food in Yankee Land. The ethnic store wins again!

Recipe: Oven Roasted Okra